Posted in Assignment 2 - Preparation, Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment Two – Plan B – The Trees

I know what’s been missing from my Assignment.  All this time I have jumped from one idea to another, the reflections in the water, the path of Moss Road but that little cog of inspiration hasn’t slotted into place. And until it does I never stop searching. As I stood in the wild I felt the comfort of the trees, I needed the trees. My exploration of trees was not to stop at Assignment One, it was to become the roots of all of the assignments, guiding me.  It was then I realised what had been missing. My assignment needed a story, something dark, something different that I always include. It needed psychology and emotion. That was what it was missing.

Sometimes to find the path you’ve been searching for, you have to wander down many, right to the end if necessary before realising that the destination is not the one you had planned. And as with this assignment and the last one I have explored many ideas, wound down many roads before arriving on the forest path that I find myself on now.

Researching the Edgelands I felt excited, inspired and motivated. However, when I arrived there, they were beautiful and wild but I realised I was missing something. Trees. It was in that moment that I realised what trees mean to me. They are a safe harbour, they are friendly giants, I feel at home among them. I reflected on my thoughts during this unit, of trees and how they may be seen as a place of danger but are actually a place of safety, I thought of what the trees meant to those who took a different path in the suicide forest and the passage I wrote below 

 I often return to my tutors comments on our first skype call, “We come from forests – that is the place where we store our fears”  It is the place where we store our fears yet it I also feel that the forest calls to them, the fear is overidden, they return to nature, from where they’ve come, perhaps there is a feeling of safety, the trees like comforting arms there to take away their pain, to shield them from their suffering and that of the outside world. Whilst the forest may bring others fear, the way the branches close in on each other blocking out the outside world, that is in a way it’s appeal, it is a place where you can hide, a place of escape, it is like the journey undertaken by the souls of the departed in Greek Mythology. Instead of the winding river Styx, they tread the path of the forest.  The forest is not a scary place, it is named Mother Earth for a reason and it provides the comfort they need, whether it’s to send them back to their lives or for them to start a new journey in a new layer of the world.”

I felt that the trees were saying something different. I want to create images of a journey (not of the suicide forest, purely, seeking the trees as comfort)  What if the trees were trying to help, saying  ‘Why do you fear, leave your fear behind, come escape the light, the light is isolation but there is comfort in the dark, you’re alone in the light, we can hold you, come deeper, we are friends. Now you are safe. I can see with every image the trees getting darker, closer together as you go deeper, it’s a journey both physical and psychological. Each tree would have a sign on it saying the words.’

With these ideas flashing in my mind I recorded a quick audio note to clarify my ideas with a rapidly drawn mind map. When my mind is wandering, sketching down ideas and pictures leads me to clarity.  Everything came together as I drew. I could see the assignment images so clearly in my mind.

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Questions to ask myself.

I wonder what the signs on the tree should look like. Is pure white too stark, not natural? Do the words need to be physically in the photo or manipulated in later. I can see it as a video with music. The trees are not witches fingers. They are comforting arms of mother earth and they hear you. They are there for you. Why is the light always positive and the dark negative? I think there is comfort in the darkness. I wrote about my thoughts earlier in my learning log when I was looking at Jesse Alexander, the course writers sublime cave images. I will scan them and include them in the next blog posts. I feel excited for this. This is what I’ve been searching for.

Posted in 07 The road, Assignment 2 - Preparation, Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment Two – Contextualisation

I feel I’ve really found the pathway or waterway I wish to take for Assignment Two. I’m so passionate about it, the images are quite different to my usual style yet it is the different images, such as the abstracts that I feel most connected to. I will research some photographers who photograph wide open places in an abstract way.

I do plan to return but perhaps I will return with the same lens. Or perhaps I will just see where the wind takes me and the assignment. With my photography, I had a different lens and that enabled me to experiment and create images I wouldn’t usually. Now I feel very drawn to the abstract portrayal of a landscape. Is abstract photography the onomatopoeia of the photography world? I remember my joy as a GCSE student to discover onomatopoeic words such as ‘crunch, crackle, fizz’ that perfectly imitate the sounds of the words they are describing. I only need to read the word crunch and instantly I feel as though I am hearing someone walking on dry leaves or chomping through their breakfast cereal. And in that respect, abstract photography captures the details, the sounds, the feelings of that place. Perhaps not all abstracts, some may be to challenge the perception, to tell stories but in regards to my assignment, I feel these images below that I captured, illustrate the feeling and senses of the river trip.


ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY – Contextualisation 

Nadav Kander created a series of images for his book, Dust where he photographed abandoned and restricted areas wrought by the desolation of man creating photos that are an oxymoron, they are devoid of people yet they are seeped in humanity, their very essence and destruction and responsibility is tied to humanity.  Two small towns that Kander photographed, Kurchatov and Priozersk were not even known until Google Earth discovered them.

He heads his work with the stanza from TS Elliot’s poem ‘The Wasteland’

‘I will show you fear in a handful of Dust’ TS Elliot

I’ve read many thoughts on the meaning of this line, but just like art, poetry is subjective and one meaning may not resonate with another. My personal opinion of this quote in regards to his photography is the dust and the ashes of the place that have been destroyed or been left to rot by man, “I will show you fear” your mind is consumed by what has gone before, here is a handful of dust of all that is left. Let your terrified imagination fill in the terrible gaps. Yet could the quote also be taken to mean, you may be terrified of the world and the darkness and the huge scheme of things but I will show you the fear in the little things, in a handful of dust.”

Illustrating a series with a poem brings me back to my own assignment, I referred to my river trip with Robert Frost’s poem, ‘The Road not Taken‘. Perhaps I myself should illustrate my journey with a poem (written by myself) In fact the more I think about it, the more the rhythm of the river seems to echo the words of poetry. As in the poem Limbo, a powerful tale of the African slaves, the poem echoes with repetition until you feel you are almost swaying with the backbreaking rhythm of the boat as the slaves work the oars.


Photograph by Nadav Kander



One of the images on his website that grabbed me is reminescent of an abstract painting, a blur of blue and sienna, the raw colours of nature. The image is split into two layers, the sky and the earth, both whipping by as though as though you are viewing it from a moving vehicle. It feels like two stripes of paint, a unity of the sky and earth with no details or barriers to disrupt the rhythm. “My landscapes are really honed to the palm print of man, mans effects on their surroundings…it’s really about the endeavour of man which is behind those pictures.

Photo by Brett Weston

Brett Weston – He captures the landscape around him in such a flawless abstract style, taking a small square from a vast place and making that the main  His images remind me of the mantra in Rudyard Kiplings, ‘The Jungle Book‘ The strength of the pack is the wolf, but the strength of the wolf is the pack.” So as to say, he takes a very small portion of a vast landscape, turns it on its head to show the small portion is just as powerful as the landscape around him. The landscape draws its power from the details yet the details draw the power from the landscape. The undulating waves of the desert rising like tumultuous waters of the deep. His images can appear as multiple things at once, Is it trees and branches jutting out of still waters, or reflections of overhanging trees. Or are they bent and warped pieces of iron filing or paperclips, a modern piece of art.

Franco Fontana

I first came across Franco Fontana’s wonderful images whilst watching Masters of Photography where Fontana was a judge. Some of the wisdom he offered was so powerful that it has buried itself deep into my mind and often speaks those words in moments when I am studying. I wrote about him here  His images pack a punch of intense colour, the saturation so powerful you can almost taste it. I love the way he sees the landscape, in bands of colours, seeking out the beautiful masterpieces created by nature. Indeed his mantra is ‘to make the invisible visible’





Posted in Assignment 2 - Preparation, Coursework, Part Two ~ Landscape as journey, Research and Reflection

Assignment Two Preparation


After my studies of Exercise 2.2 and my study of the road in the form of an ocean, I took a trip to the local nature reserve, Martin Mere. Created by the WWT which was in turn founded by Peter Scott, an incredible man and a wonderful naturalist responsible for bringing back many species from the edge of extinction such as the Hawaiian goose, which now populates Martin Mere. There are several centres around Great Britain but I am lucky in that this one is not far from home.

I took many photos as I plan to enter the WWT annual photography competition.


I headed to the dock nestled deep inside the woodland where I proceeded to take a rowing boat on a guided tour through the reedbeds. The boat man, a cheerful volunteer provided a fascinating narrative as we drifted slowly through the waterway. I knew instantly as we glided softly away from the sounds of the duck filled ponds and into a still silence that this was the place I wanted to use for Assignment Two, my only regret, I had chosen to take my 80mm lens (due to the heavy rain as we left I had decided to leave my other lenses safe at home)  therefore I didn’t have the right lense for landscape shots. However, what dicattes that only certain lenses can capture specific things, why can’t a portrait lens be used for landscape? Perhaps I should use all the images that I took that day to provide a different insight. Certain things were harder to photograph, landscapes, for example, yet other opportunities arose that would perhaps not have been presented with another lens. For instance these two abstract images. IMG_9416.JPGIMG_9419.JPG

I hung over the edge of the boat as several mallards swam alongside for secretive swishes of bird seed I offered who unsurprisingly followed us the entire way. There were so many pathways and we reached a part in the river where the water parted and led down two routes. It reminded me of Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road not Taken’

“Two roads diverged in yellow wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.”
It is a poem about a man who is faced with two roads, one is worn with footprints and broken branches, and the other clearly has not been used much. He ponders which to take and eventufully decides on the one less travelled by. We do not know whether the difference it has made is good or positive, what happened on the path, where it led him or even whether it’s a physical path or a choice in something less physical.
In CBT they say how your mind believes what you think and the more you keep going down the same path the more you will get trapped in a vicious circle. But to step out of the trampled grass and to cut away into some new grass will provide a different route, a way out which will soon become the way your mind naturally thinks.
We faced the two routes before heading down the left side one. It was eerily quiet, yes eerie doesn’t somehow seem the right word, it was still, it was beautiful, so mindful just the gentle hum of the boats engine and the sound of the ducks cutting through the water while the marsh grasses grew taller than us occasionally waving their arms in our faces.
This was what my tutor had recommended, just getting out there, going on a journey somewhere, just me, my camera and my imagination and to see what happened, no prior research of the area, just spontaneity and a camera.
I would love to return with my 18-125mm lens and my iPhone and capture some landscape shots to add to the selection. But perhaps with regard to my thoughts above I will just stick to my 80mm images.
I better put my head down and start thinking.